Karim Khan
Karim KhanREUTERS/Michael Kooren

International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan's office on Friday condemned any attempts to intimidate the court from carrying out its duties, likely in response to US and Israeli statements criticizing possible ICC arrest warrants against Israeli leaders over the war in Gaza.

“The Office seeks to engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever such dialogue is consistent with its mandate under the Rome Statute to act independently and impartially,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement posted to social media.

“That independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the Court or against Court personnel should the Office, in fulfillment of its mandate, make decisions about investigations or cases falling within its jurisdiction. Such threats, even when not acted upon, may also constitute an offence against the administration of justice under Art. 70 of the Rome Statute,” it added.

“That provision explicitly prohibits both ‘[r]etaliating against an official of the Court on account of duties performed by that or another official’ and ‘[i]mpeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the Court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties.’”

“The Office insists that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials cease immediately,” concluded the statement from Khan’s office.

The statement follows recent criticism of possible arrest warrants that the ICC could issue against Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement this week in which he criticized the ICC over its threats to issue arrest warrants.

"Clearly, this threat by the ICC is not an attempt to enforce the law. Israel is not even subject to the court’s jurisdiction and it has an independent legal system that rigorously investigates all violations of the law," he said. "Rather, this ICC attempt is an attempt to paralyze Israel’s very ability to defend itself."

"And I want to assure you, no ICC action will impact Israel’s iron-clad determination to achieve the goals of our war with Hamas terrorists: We will destroy Hamas’s military and governing capabilities in Gaza, we will release all our hostages, and we will ensure that Gaza never poses a threat to Israel again," he added.

Netanyahu said that Israel "expects the leaders of the free world to stand firmly against the ICC's outrageous assault on Israel’s inherent right of self-defense. We expect them to use all the means at their disposal to stop this dangerous move."

On Wednesday, Axios reported that the Israeli government warned the Biden administration that if the ICC issues arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, it will take retaliatory steps against the PA that could lead to its collapse.

Earlier this week, it was reported that US Senators and members of Congress are working to prevent arrest warrants against senior Israelis, and plan to take steps against the ICC should such warrants be issued.

On Thursday, Axios reported that a bipartisan group of US senators held a virtual meeting on Wednesday with senior officials at the ICC to express their concern about possible arrest warrants being issued for Israeli leaders over the war in Gaza.

Sources with knowledge of the meeting between senators and senior ICC officials did not disclose the identity of the senators or the ICC officials, saying the meeting was confidential.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)